By Ahmed Bani Mustafa – Dec 28,2017 – JORDAN TIMES
AMMAN — The Zakat Fund paid JD200,000 for the release of 386 women who were imprisoned after failing to pay back their loans in 2017, an official said on Thursday.
The release came as part of the fund’s programme “Sahm Al Gharimat” (funds allocated for indebted women) which aims to release women who cannot pay for their freedom, the fund’s director general, Abed Smeirat, told The Jordan Times.
According to Islamic law, or Sharia, Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, a tax that requires paying 2.5 per cent of what a Muslim owns in cash money, gold, silver, cattle, farms and rentable assets, in alms.
People who are burdened with debt that has been obtained for reasonable purposes are one of the eight categories of groups entitled to receive Zakat money, which is, in principle, managed by the state and is the only type of tax Muslim citizens are required to pay.
The fund’s board of directors, chaired by Awqaf Minister Wael Arabiyat, has allocated JD500,000 for the programme during 2017-2018, Smeirat said.
He pointed out that the fund has set a number of rules to regulate the process of selecting the beneficiaries.
“The top priority is to pay the debts of women who are detained for financial issues and have no criminal records,” said Smeirat, adding that the payment’s upper limit is JD1,500 for each beneficiary and for one time.
He noted that the fifth imbursement extended by the fund on December 10 will not be the last and the plan will remain in place throughout 2018.
The Zakat Fund does not deal with individual cases but rather carries out its own studies on a group of cases prior to selection, the official explained, underscoring the fund’s cooperation with the Public Security Department in this regard.
Smeirat added that the fund, in cooperation with the Awqaf Ministry, also finances enterprises for underprivileged families in an effort to “transform beneficiaries into self-reliant people who contribute to development”.
The fund’s chief called on the affluent to pay their Zakat to help the fund implement its charitable projects, noting that the number of enterprises for the underprivileged implemented by the fund during 2017 reached 75 with a cost of JD180,000, in addition to 35 enterprises that are currently in the pipeline.
The enterprises financed by the fund include small businesses such as pastry shops, houseware stores, beauty salons, garment stores, electrical appliances shops, groceries and confectionery shops, according to Smeirat.
The fund’s women initiative has not been the only one of its kind launched in Jordan. Last year, dozens of Jordanian women who were in prison for failing to repay debts were released during the fasting month of Ramadan following a fund raising campaign by a police radio.